There should always be an adult, who is capable of responding to an emergency, observing children around water. The adult should be actively watching and avoid distractions. Supervision also applies to bathtubs, where children should never be left alone even for short periods of time. In bathtubs, seats designed to hold a baby’s head above water are no substitute for adult supervision.
- Use of Safety Equipment: When participating in water activities, children should always wear Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) that are Coast Guard Approved and suited for the proper weight of the child. PFDs should also be checked for broken zippers/buckles. “Water wings”, “noodles”, inner tubes, and other inflatable items are not adequate substitutes.
- Learn to Swim: Children should have swimming lessons and water safety education. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until 4-years-of-age to begin lessons. While this is vital, swimming ability alone does not relieve the need for adult supervision or PFDs.
- Use the Buddy System: Never allow a child to swim alone and assign a “swimming buddy” when in crowded swimming areas. The swimming buddy does not release adults from their supervision duties.
- Pool/Environment Safety: Home pools should have safety equipment available and be inaccessible to young children. Five-foot fencing with safety latched gates completely encircling a pool or hot tub is recommended. Additionally, pool ladders should be stored in a location not accessible to a child after each pool use and doors and windows that exit to a pool area should be equipped with special locks and alarms.
- Clear the Pool and Deck of Toys: Remove beach balls, noodles, and other toys from the pool and surrounding area immediately after use. The presence of these toys may lure children to enter the pool area where they could lean over the pool and fall in.
- Think Outside the Box: Caregivers must be vigilant to consider less obvious drowning environments. Small children can drown after falling into buckets, toilets, washing machines, decorative garden ponds or other water holding basins.
- Stay Sober: Drugs and alcohol use around pools and bodies of water are a lethal mix and should be avoided at all cost.
- Stay Away from Flooded Areas: Do not walk, swim, play, or drive through flooded areas or flowing water. The depth of the water and strength of the current can be deceptive.
- Learn Before You Leap: Take the time to research swimming areas of lakes, rivers, and ponds. Become familiar with possible dangers such as large rocks and underwater currents. Check the local weather conditions and forecast before swimming or boating; thunderstorms with lightning strikes or strong winds have proven to be fatal.